South Africa’s communications regulator plans to cut call costs

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March 23, 2024
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2 min read
call
  • The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has proposed reducing call termination fees, which mobile networks charge to connect calls, by more than half a year. 
  • The regulator has announced that mobile termination rates will drop from today's 9c/minute (or 13c for smaller operators) to 7c (9c) on July 1, 2024, and 4c (4c) on July 1, 2025. 
  • With more options and a reduced call cost, this regulatory action tends to increase competition and efficiency in the telecom industry.

Nompucuko Nontombana, Icasa Council chairperson, said, “By phasing out asymmetry and providing a transitionary period for new entrants, we aim to empower operators to adapt gradually, all while maximising benefits for consumers.”

He added that publishing the draft amendments to the call termination regulations will lead to a more competitive and consumer-friendly telecommunications sector.

In November 2022, Telkom dragged the regulator to court over its decision to eliminate asymmetric mobile termination rates (MTRs) for smaller mobile network operators.

Earlier in the year, Telkom and Cell C opposed a draft regulation that would prohibit them from charging higher mobile termination rates (MTRs) than Vodacom and MTN.

Meanwhile, with this development, smaller telcos like Telkom and Cell C will lose their "asymmetry" advantage over larger telcos like Vodacom and MTN beginning next year. There will no longer be a currency rate difference between incoming and outgoing wholesale calls from other networks.

Besides, new companies entering the voice call market will be eligible for three years of asymmetry following launch. 

Furthermore, all operators may now charge fees based on the termination rate in the country from which the call originated, which cannot be less than South Africa's domestic termination rate or more than the fees charged by the international operator.

Operators have until May 10, 2024, to provide their feedback to Icasa about the regulations.

In 2022, the regulator suggested in the draft amendments that data, SMS, and voice bundles for both prepaid and postpaid users would not expire for at least six months, except for promotional packages. It further stated that operators would only implement new voice and SMS bundles after the previous ones had run out.

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